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Delaying thorough examination is an expensive mistake

Published:  22 October, 2009

ASCOT: The economic downturn is leading some businesses to fall foul of the Corporate Manslaughter Act. And, according to one industry expert, it’s the directors and managers of small and medium enterprises who are “most at risk” of prosecution.

“Hard times and poor cashflow can tempt some forklift truck users into delaying their annual Thorough Examination,” said Consolidated Fork Truck Services chairman John Chappell.

“The introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act (CMA) makes it more important than ever before to ensure your forklift trucks have valid Reports of Thorough Examination.

“Neglecting this statutory requirement exposes you to unnecessary risks if there is an accident. Companies can now be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures amounting to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care.

“Whether you buy your forklift truck or hire it, long-term or short-term, you have a legal – and moral – responsibility to ensure it has a current Report of Thorough Examination. You should never assume that someone else has taken care of that responsibility: doing so could be an expensive mistake.”

Courts, prosecutions and fines

Under CMA, introduced in 2007, failure to comply with legislation could result in fines of up to 10% of a firm’s annual turnover: potentially a terminal blow for smaller businesses.

The courts also hold the power to impose publicity orders: forcing a company to advertise details of the conviction. This type of sanction could negatively impact upon a business of any size.

Remedial orders can also be levied, compelling a company to demonstrate that corrective measures have been taken within the organisation.

“Importantly, it isn’t the large corporations who are being prosecuted,” added Mr Chappell. “Directors and senior managers of small and medium-sized businesses are more likely to end up in the courts.

“Their hands-on and day-to-day involvement in their company’s activities mean these individuals are easier to convict. What’s more, prosecutions of individuals are far more common than ever before – reflecting the political will to hold individuals accountable after any major incident.”

To be certain of complying fully with the law, forklift truck industry leaders recommend obtaining Thorough Examinations through companies accredited to the CFTS Thorough Examination scheme.

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